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Points of the Day

April 28, 2010

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Portland home prices slipping

Home prices in Portland hit a new low according to the recent Case Shiller Index, falling 4.8% in the 12 months ending in February.

New RMLS figures from local realtors were more encouraging, with increased sales volumes in March likely due to the expiring federal tax incentives.

Portland prices have declined 21 percent from the peak of July 2007, according to the report. Portland was one of six major metropolitan areas around the country hitting new floors in February.

"These data point to a risk that home prices could decline further before experiencing any sustained gains," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, which publishes the index. "While the year-over-year data continued to improve for 18 of the 20 (metropolitan statistical area,) this simply confirms that the pace of decline is less severe than a year ago. It is too early to say that the housing market is recovering."

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.

Dudley outshustles GOP rivals

Former Trail Blazer Chris Dudley has the fundraising lead over his GOP rivals, with significant support from his connections in the sports world.

Dudley's top donors include his former agent Daniel Fegan and Nike founder Phil Knight, who have donated $100,000 and $50,000 respectively.

In his bid for the GOP nomination in the race for the Oregon governorship, Dudley has raised $1.36 million in contributions — more than double rival Allen Alley’s $615,040, according to campaign finance data on the Secretary of State’s Orestar Web site.

With less than a month until the election, the political newcomer also has more cash on hand — $303,629 compared with Alley’s $123,694 — to spend for advertising and get-out-the-vote operations.

Read the full story at The Register-Guard.

Saks off-shoot opening in Bridgeport

Saks Fifth Ave. is in the process of closing its location in downtown Portland, but shoppers will soon be able to find a variation of the retailer outside the city.

Off 5th, a discount store along the lines of Nordstrom Rack, will open in Bridgeport Village in early September.

The early September opening may soften the blow to Saks shoppers mourning the loss of the upscale department store's closure in downtown Portland. Saks announced in late March that its 60,000-square-foot main store will close July 31, while the 23,000-square-foot men's store across the street closed earlier this week. Men's goods will be in the main store through July.

"It wasn't a great fit with Portland even before the economy," Julia Bentley, a Saks spokeswoman, said at the time. She also said the decision to close was based on the fact its lease expired this year and that it wasn't meeting the company's "profitability standards."

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.

Wineries take green challenge

14 Oregon wineries have completed the industry's first carbon-reduction program, the "Carbon Neutral Challenge." The program is a joint effort from the Oregon Environmental Council and the Oregon Wine Board.

Introducing biofuel tractors and looking into alternative packaging are among the steps taken by the participating wineries to measure and reduce greenhouse gases.

The participating wineries — 14 finishers of an arduous process that launched with 30 wineries signed on — instituted a number of changes aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions including installing solar panels, retrofitting lighting, insulating tanks and using goats, sheep and raptors instead of lawn mowers and pesticides.

Willamette Valley Vineyards of Turner and King Estate Winery of Eugene are the largest participating wineries. Jim Bernau, Willamette Valley Vineyards founder, said even though his business has been focusing on sustainability for years, he learned a lot through the process.

Read the full story at Sustainable Business Oregon.

Lithia back on track

Lithia Motors' revenue in the first quarter of 2010 reached $463 million, up 13.4%.

Rising demand for new vehicles was a key contributor to the Medford company's growth, with same-store new vehicle sales increasing 11.5% compared to the same period last year.

"We continued to improve solidly throughout the quarter locally and nationally," Lithia Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sid DeBoer said Tuesday.

"We have a very good market share. Even with unemployment high, the consumer returned to the new vehicle market and credit constraints that were around in 2009 were reduced."

Read the full story at the Mail Tribune.

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